Difference Between Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis (With Table)

Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune diseases that are caused when a person’s immune system accidentally attacks his own body. Both have quite a few overlapping characteristics which make it difficult for people to tell them apart. Moreover, since there are no tests that can diagnose the two, inferring the disease through its symptoms can be quite an arduous task.

Lupus vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

The difference between lupus and rheumatoid arthritis is that lupus affects several parts of a patient’s body that include his joints, internal organs as well as the skin. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis only affects the joints of a patient. They also differ in initial symptoms as lupus begins with rashes under the cheeks and on the nose while rheumatoid arthritis begins with a feeling of weakness, fatigue, and morning stiffness.

Lupus is often described as a disease in which the immune system attacks the healthy tissues of an individual. This causes several injuries and much damage to various body parts. The disease has no cure, but its symptoms can be treated. Women are nine times more likely to be affected by lupus than men.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another disease that is very similar to lupus; however, unlike lupus, rheumatoid arthritis only affects the joints of a diagnosed person. Smaller joints like the fingers, hands and feet are more likely to be harmed because of the condition. Like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis has no cure but has treatable symptoms. Also, women are two-three times more likely to get affected by it than men.

Comparison Table Between Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Parameters of ComparisonLupusRheumatoid Arthritis
AffectsLupus affects the joints, internal organs, and skin of the patient.Rheumatoid arthritis only affects the joints of the patients.
SymptomsCommon symptoms of lupus include skin rashes, pain, swelling, and stiffness.Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include inflammation, weakness, deformed joints, and joint stiffness.
Oral MicrobiomesLupus may be affected by the local oral microenvironment of the patient.Rheumatoid arthritis causes alterations in the oral microenvironment of the patient.
ComplicationLupus may cause complications such as skin scarring, joint deformities, and kidney failure.Rheumatoid arthritis may cause complications such as depression, heart failure and strokes.
Severe CasesIn severe cases, lupus can affect the brain and cause memory loss.In severe cases, rheumatoid arthritis makes it hard to maintain range of motion and mobility.

What is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease which means that the immune system of a person accidentally attacks the tissues and organs. This causes various injuries and internal damage. The disease affects different parts of the body including the joints, skin, blood cells, kidneys, heart, lungs and even the brain. The origins and causes of lupus remain unknown; however, there may be a role of genes that make a person more prone to it.

Symptoms of lupus often mimic those of other diseases which makes it hard to diagnose it. However, some distinctive ailments of lupus include rashes under the cheek and on the nose, fatigue, fever, joint pain, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, confusion, and memory loss. Complications caused by the disease may lead to skin scarring, joint deformities and even kidney failure.

As of now, there is no cure for lupus. However, medical professionals aim at treating the symptoms of the disease to minimize the patient’s trouble. To diagnose lupus, doctors check a person’s complete blood count and erythrocyte sedimentation. In addition to this, they carry out kidney and liver assessments, urine tests and antinuclear antibody tests. Treatments for lupus include changes in the lifestyle and diet of the patient as well as sun protection. Medications including anti-inflammatories and steroids are also used.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the joints of a patient. It affects the lining of the joints which leads to painful swelling, bone erosion and even joint deformities. Some common signs of rheumatoid arthritis in a patient include weakness, fatigue, morning stiffness, swollen joints, fever, and loss of appetite. Further complications may even lead to depression, heart failure and strokes. In severe cases, the patient loses the ability to maintain a stable range of motion and mobility.

The disease affects smaller joints such as the fingers, hands, and feet in the initial stages. Later, it begins to spread to other joints in the body that include the wrists, knees, elbows, ankles, shoulders, and hips. Most of the time, the symptoms affect both sides of the body. However, in some cases, they may be seen on just one side.

The origins and causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unknown. However, some risk factors include a person’s sex, age, family history, excess weight and even smoking. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis however its symptoms can be managed in several ways. The main aim of doctors while doing so is to control inflammation, ease pain and reduce disability. Medications such including NSAIDs and DMARDs are often used for doing so. In severe cases, joint surgery is performed for joint damage.

Main Differences Between Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis

  1. Lupus affects the joints, internal organs, and skin of the patient while rheumatoid arthritis only affects the joints.
  2. Common symptoms of lupus include skin rashes, pain and swelling while those of rheumatoid arthritis include inflammation, weakness, and fatigue.
  3. Lupus may be affected by the local oral microenvironment of a patient while rheumatoid arthritis is more likely to cause alteration in it.
  4. Lupus may cause complications such as skin scarring, joint deformities, and kidney failure while those caused by rheumatoid arthritis include depression, heart failure and strokes.
  5. In severe cases, lupus causes memory loss while rheumatoid arthritis makes it hard to maintain range of motion and mobility.

Conclusion

The origins and causes of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are unknown and neither do they have an effective cure yet. Diagnosing them is difficult because of this but doctors can still treat the symptoms caused by them. The symptoms of lupus include skin rashes, pain and swelling while that of rheumatoid arthritis include weakness, fatigue, and deformities.

A major difference between lupus and rheumatoid arthritis is that lupus affects body parts other than the joints. This includes internal organs and the skin. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis only affects the joints of a person. Its symptoms of lupus are first seen in small joints such as the fingers, hands, and feet. As the condition progresses, the symptoms start affecting larger joints such as the elbows, hips, and shoulders.

References

  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/16734120
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s00109-012-0907-y.pdf
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